- Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Ecological Stoichiometry and Density Responses of Plant-Arthropod Communities on Cormorant Nesting Islands
Kolb, Gundula; Palmborg, Cecilia; Hamback, Peter
Seabirds deposit large amounts of nutrient rich guano on their nesting islands. The increased nutrient availability strongly affects plants and consumers. Consumer response differs among taxonomic groups, but mechanisms causing these differences are poorly understood. Ecological stoichiometry might provide tools to understand these mechanisms. ES suggests that nutrient rich taxa are more likely to be nutrient limited than nutrient poorer taxa and are more favored under nutrient enrichment. Here, we quantified differences in the elemental composition of soil, plants, and consumers between islands with and without nesting cormorant colonies and tested predictions made based on ES by relating the elemental composition and the eventual mismatch between consumer and resource stoichiometry to observed density differences among the island categories. We found that nesting cormorants radically changed the soil nutrient content and thereby indirectly plant nutrient content and resource quality to herbivores. In contrast, consumers showed only small differences in their elemental composition among the island categories. While we cannot evaluate the cause of the apparent homeostasis of invertebrates without additional data, we can conclude that from the perspective of the next trophic level, there is no difference in diet quality (in terms of N and P content) between island categories. Thus, bottom-up effects seemed mainly be mediated via changes in resource quantity not quality. Despite a large potential trophic mismatch we were unable to observe any relation between the invertebrate stoichiometry and their density response to nesting cormorant colonies. We conclude that in our system stoichiometry is not a useful predictor of arthropod responses to variation in resource nutrient content. Furthermore, we found no strong evidence that resource quality was a prime determinant of invertebrate densities. Other factors like resource quantity, habitat structure and species interactions might be more important or masked stoichiometric effects.
2013, Volume: 8, number: 4, article number: e61772
Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
UKÄ Subject classification
Permanent link to this page (URI)